By Associated Press
As the Senate discussion churns, more changes could be coming to the bill.
Democrats want to protect against intimidation at the polls in the aftermath of the 2020 election. They propose enhancing penalties for those who would threaten or intimidate election workers and creating a “buffer zone” between election workers and poll watchers, among other possible changes.
They also want to limit the ability of state officials to remove local election officials. Georgia Republicans passed a law earlier this year that gives the GOP-dominated Legislature greater influence over a state board that regulates elections and empowers it to remove local election officials deemed to be underperforming.
But Democrats have divisions of their own. Until Tuesday, it wasn’t even clear that they would be united on the vote to bring the bill up for debate. Manchin, a moderate from West Virginia, announced earlier this month that he couldn’t support the bill because it lacked Republican support.
Manchin flipped his vote to a “yes” after Democrats agreed to consider his revised version. His proposal was endorsed by former President Barack Obama and called a “step forward” by Biden’s administration.
Manchin has proposed adding provisions for a national voter ID requirement, which is anathema to many Democrats, and dropping a proposed public financing of campaigns.
Those changes did little, however, to garner the bipartisan support Manchin was hoping for. Senate Republicans said they would likely reject any legislation that expands the federal government’s role in elections. McConnell dismissed Manchin’s version as “equally unacceptable.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Alaska Republican, said some aspects of the Democratic bill were laudable and she supports other voting rights legislation, like a reinstatement of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.
But, ultimately, she said the “sprawling” bill amounted to “a one-size-fits-all mandate coming out of Washington D.C.” that “in many cases doesn’t work.”
Months in the making, Tuesday’s showdown had taken on fresh urgency as Trump continues to challenge the outcome of the 2020 election and new limits move ahead in Republican-led states.
State officials who certified the results of the 2020 election have dismissed Trump’s claims of voter fraud , and judges across the country have thrown out multiple lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies. Trump’s own attorney general said there was no evidence of widespread fraud that would change the outcome.